National Crime Agency
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Jail for traffickers whose lawnmower shipments disguised a tonne of drugs

Traffickers who imported more than a tonne of Class A and B drugs in lawnmower shipments have been jailed following a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation.

Neil Snazel, 42, of Manchester, imported ecstasy, cannabis and ketamine which Derek Maguire, 55, also of Manchester, kept in a storage unit.

Snazel arranged for drugs to be smuggled into the UK from the Netherlands in at least 15 shipments of machinery over a four-month period.

He was sentenced to 14 years in prison at Minshull Street Crown Court on Monday.

Maguire, also sentenced to 14 years in prison, employed his daughter Beth Maguire, 23, her boyfriend Jack Rhodes, 24, and his nephew Mark Maguire, 33, all of Manchester, to distribute the drugs.

Mark Maguire and Jack Rhodes were sentenced to a 12 month sentence (suspended for two years) and 3 years and 9 months respectively.

Rhodes’s sentence include time for drugs charges brought by Greater Manchester Police relating to the production, possession and supply of drugs.

Mark Maguire was also given a ten-day rehab order.

Beth Maguire was sentenced to two four-month concurrent prison terms, suspended for two years. Her sentence also incorporates a GMP charge of allowing her flat to be used to produce drugs.

Investigation

The NCA’s investigation of the drug shipments began in October 2015 after Thames Valley Police seized a crate from the Netherlands addressed to a courier.

It contained a lawn mower and 11 heat sealed packages which tests proved to be 80kg of MDMA. 

In November NCA officers identified 14 similar deliveries made between July and October 2015 whose labels indicate Snazel had shipped 1033kg of drugs into the country.

CCTV footage showed Derek Maguire collecting the fourteenth delivery ten minutes after it was dropped off.

Arrests

NCA officers arrested Derek Maguire and the search of his home and self-storage unit found 24 kg of MDMA, ketamine and cannabis labeled by weight and type.

Officers were able to link Snazel, Rhodes, Beth Maguire and Mark Maguire to the conspiracy using their phone records.

Snazel and Mark Maguire were arrested on 23 February 2016. Three days later Jack Rhodes and Beth Maguire handed themselves in at Cheadle Heath Police Station.

Courier Andrew Cross, 40, was charged as part of the investigation but was acquitted.

Jon Hughes, NCA operations manager said: “The huge quantities of illegal substances this group imported made them a significant criminal network.

“After the initial seizure by Thames Valley Police (TVP), NCA investigators were able to provide evidence that Derek Maguire distributed large amounts of class A and B drugs across Manchester, imported by Snazel.

“By bringing this group and other like it to justice, we ensure the public are protected from the harm that the criminal drugs trade does to communities.

“Working with law enforcement partners we are determined to disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups intent on smuggling harmful commodities into the country.”

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